The solution to the US election is more research (obviously!)

The presidential election in the US and the Brexit referendum were unsurprising based on the actual evidence – both were too close to call – but in each case people were shocked because they only heard the information they wanted to hear. In the past I have suggested that this was because commentators lacked the basic skills to assess the data, but this time the pollsters were in on the act!

In both elections the losing side was considered to be the rational choice with the other side being more emotive and any neurologist would have pointed out that the emotional aspects will win out.  But to look at the election from the jobs to be done viewpoint is instructive:


In both cases the two forces to promote change were considered better than what was already in place.  This lead to white male voters in the US voting and created a high turn out as the new solution (Trump) gave them perceived job security which was the key job to be done.  Another key element appears to be the anger that the mainstream media seemed more than happy to fan.

The high turn out was seen as an indicator that Clinton was 90% certain to win and it is another reason why companies should always assess their key performance indicator to check that their assumptions are correct. In this case, the pollster must have known the limitations of the findings – but wanted to stand out in a crowded marketplace. As a result sometimes you need a truly independent assessment.

Also look to assess the reasons why your customers choose you (or not) the responses may be rational or emotional, but ask what underlying jobs they want to be done.

Understanding what customers need does not help necessarily help you – economically the UK needed to remain in the EU and the US needed an administrator with an eye for detail.  What the people wanted in both cases was change.

November is a time for reflection, not just because of an apparently surprising election result, but also because of Armistice day.  I use the month to reflect on what I want to achieve in 2017, if you want someone who is independent to look at how you communicate with your customers, please get in touch.

2 thoughts on “The solution to the US election is more research (obviously!)

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  1. The inability to predict either result is down to polling paradigms (and some fear).
    Everybody does what everybody does. No one wants to lead polling into where neuroscience has patiently explained and pointed us overthe last ten years; i. e. that everything we humans do at a conscious level is driven by an emotional driver. This driver we then subconsciously translste into a ‘practical’ driver so we might ‘do’ something to deliver us the satisfaction we need.
    Pollsters understand their processes (and subsequent results) are seriously flawed so they apply ever more desperate fudge factors such as regression analysis to try to deliver results they feel fit.


    1. Completely agree – the numbers did not warrant a lot of the interpretation as most pollsters understand the numbers better than I do. I am sometimes shocked by how little commentators look at the original data and are only interested in polls that support their views. In my view the pollsters have been wrong to indulge clients in these fudge factors which ultimately destroys the perceived value of polling and by implication other forms of market research/customer based forecasting.


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